The Huffington Post reported on September 20 that a new study has revealed that the Cambrian explosion was caused by multiple events.
The Cambrian explosion, also referred to as the evolutionary "big bang," occurred about 530 million years ago. During that time, the diversity of life on Earth truly exploded. The first sea predators and prey emerged and animals began to develop more diverse anatomies and hard exoskeletons. During the Cambrian period, life evolved at a rate about five times faster than today.
The study was recently published in the journal Science and reveals that a combination of genetic changes, rise in sea levels, changes in habitat, and the development of minerals like calcium and strontium all led to the extraordinary evolutionary changes of the time period. Paul Smith, a paleobiologist at the University of Oxford's Museum of Natural History and co-author of the study, explained it further. Saying that
There was this cascade of events. You can see how one process might feed into one another and possibly amplify it as it feeds back."
Researchers involved with the study looked at all previous research to determine what could have caused the complex evolutionary changes that happened so quickly during the Cambrian period. Researchers spent years compiling information, including a four year stint in northern Greenland studying fossils. After analyzing the fossils they found, the researchers determined that there was not a single theory that explained the evolution of diverse life during the Cambrian period.